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Topic - The Energy Transition

Ready for the next phase of the energy transition

Introduction

The energy transition is our pathway into a future that is secure, environmentally-friendly, and economically successful. We are in the process of overhauling Germany’s energy supply, moving away from nuclear and fossil fuels towards renewables and better energy efficiency.

We have already achieved quite a lot, with almost one third of our electricity coming from wind, solar, biomass and hydropower. Renewable energy is a very important component of our electricity supply.

The energy transition is a guarantor of innovation and progress

The Federal Government is committed to making the energy transition a driver for energy efficiency, modernisation, innovation and digitisation in our electricity and heat sectors. The same applies to agriculture and transport. At the same time, we are taking care not to put our international competitiveness at stake.

Priority for energy efficiency

Germany is not only increasing the share of green energy in its supply. We are also using energy more economically. Primary energy consumption has been cut significantly in recent years in Germany – by 7.6% between 2008 and 2015. You can find out more about what we are trying to achieve in terms of energy efficiency, and how we are going about it, in the "Energy Efficiency" dossier.

The energy transition in buildings

Our homes account for approx. 35% of our final energy consumption, and most of this energy is used to provide heat and hot water. Where consumption is high, there is a lot of potential for energy conservation. That is why the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy is also supporting the energy transition in the building sector. We are doing so by offering extensive advice and attractive financial incentives. Find out more in the “Buildings” dossier.

Whether it’s consumers, businesses or municipalities – everybody can do their bit when it comes to energy conservation. The Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy has launched a broad-based PR campaign entitled ‘Germany makes it efficient’ that provides information to people on what they can do to step up energy efficiency.

The German parliament has enacted legislation to promote landlord-to-tenant electricity supply, which allows tenants to play an active role in the energy transition. Under this new legislation, a premium is available to landlords who began operating a solar installation on the day the 2017 Renewable Energy Sources Act entered into force or subsequent to this date. Further information can be found here.

Harnessing smart grids and smart meters

Any electricity supply that is based on renewables also comes with new challenges. A large portion of the electricity is generated by decentralised installations and must be transported over long distances once it is fed into the grid. This notably applies to the large amounts of wind power generated in Germany’s north, from where it is taken to the centres of consumption in southern Germany. The success of the energy transition will therefore much depend on our ability to expand the large supra-regional transmission grids and also local distribution grids. This work to expand the grids must go hand in hand with efforts to step up demand-side management and to render conventional power plants more flexible. Introducing smart meters will help us digitise the energy transition to better balance supply and demand and to harness the potential for energy efficiency.

Four energy transition targets

40 - 45
Symbolicon für Grüner Strom

per cent
Share of renewables to be reached in our power consumption by 2025

2022
Symbolicon für Deutschlandkarte

Year when the remaining nuclear power plants are to shut down

40
Symbolicon für Schornsteine

Amount by which greenhouse gas emissions are to be reduced
by 2020 (from 1990 levels)

50
Symbolicon für Glühbirne

Planned reduction in our primary energy consumption
by 2050 compared to 2008

Strategy and objectives

A systematic approach designed for success

The process of overhauling Germany’s energy system cannot be accomplished overnight. Rather, it must take the form of many steps that are carefully planned. We are dealing with a task that will take decades to complete. We need good bearings, a precise roadmap, and good stakeholder cooperation.

Clear goals and targets have been set out for all the areas of the energy transition – electricity, heat and transport. Most of our efforts are targeted on two things: we want our energy supply to be increasingly based on renewables. And we want to use energy ever more efficiently. Our energy transition is guided by the principles set out in the Federal Government’s Energy Concept, by further decisions by the Bundestag, and by European rules and regulations.

The energy transition has seen some significant progress, notably in terms of the electricity market, digitisation, and the latest revision of the Renewable Energy Sources Act. The electricity market has been thoroughly reformed to integrate renewables and pave the way for an electricity market 2.0 fit for taking up a growing share of renewables. The groundwork for new digital infrastructure that links up electricity generators and consumers has also been laid. These various reforms have all been designed to fit in well into the European single market. It is more efficient to take concerted action within Europe than for an individual country to act unilaterally.

A target architecture for the energy transition

The target architecture for the energy transition is designed to ensure that we have our eyes firmly on the objectives of the energy transition as we develop specific policy action. The various quantitative goals set out in the Federal Government’s Energy Concept are ranked according to their importance. This creates a clear structure to work with. As it designs the target structure and the specific policy action, the Federal Government takes care to favour cost-effective solutions that also deliver the best possible level of systems integration for renewables. This is necessary to keep our energy supply affordable.

Find out more about the target architecture here.

The overview of legislation covering the energy supply system (in German) provides a summary of the most important legal texts within German and European energy policy.

Publications on energy transition

Consultation on energy efficiency; Quelle: Ute Grabowsky/Photothek/Getty Images

© Ute Grabowsky/Photothek/Getty Images

Progress report and monitoring

Monitoring and steering the energy transition

The Federal Government is monitoring the development of the energy transition: Where are we? What action has been taken, and what is planned? And are we meeting our targets?

The monitoring system for the energy transition aims to review the implementation of the Energy Concept and the Federal Government’s programme of measures, and to take action if targets are being missed.

Annual monitoring and the progress report

At the heart of the monitoring system is the annual monitoring report, which shows where we are in the energy transition and what adjustments are needed. Every three years, the monitoring report is supplemented by a strategic progress report. The progress report provides scope for deeper analysis and for the identification of new trends. The report also looks at whether we are on track to reaching our long-term goals or whether we might have to consider taking additional action.

Also involved in the process is an independent commission of experts, who provide a scientific opinion on the Monitoring Report.

You can find out more about the monitoring process and the monitoring reports, and see the comments by the commission of experts from recent years here.

Solaranlage zum Thema Erneuerbare Energien; Source: iStock.com/nullplus

© iStock.com/nullplus

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A Joint Effort

Getting the stakeholders on board

The energy transition will only succeed if all stakeholders work together: it requires a joint effort to be taken. Policy-makers at all levels of government are called upon, as are business and civil society.

The Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy is in charge of coordinating the close and ongoing dialogue between the relevant stakeholders. This dialogue ensures a high level of transparency and helps garner public support for the energy transition.

The energy transition platforms: designed to gather everyone around one table

The Economic Affairs Ministry has established permanent high-level energy transition platforms to facilitate dialogue with representatives from the Länder, business and industry, society, science and research. This allows for solution and strategies to be drawn up for the key fields of action within the energy transition.

Find out more about the five energy transition platforms:

Coordination between the Federal and Länder Governments

The Federal Government and the Länder engage in continuous coordination on the implementation of the energy transition. Twice a year, the Federal Chancellor and the Federal Minister for Economic Affairs meet with the heads of government of the Länder for discussions on the status of the energy transition. In addition to this, the relevant federal and Länder ministers also come together for an annual conference where they set their priorities and agree upon the next steps to be taken as part of the energy transition. The institutional coordination is complemented by a continuous co-operation and exchange on technical level.

In its brochure “Who is Who der Energiewende in Deutschland” (PDF: 6,7 MB; in German), the Federal Foreign Office has compiled a list of the key contacts in government, business and society.

Offshore wind farm; Source: ABB